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Sewards Overnight from Blueberry LT

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  • Sewards Overnight from Blueberry LT

    I was wondering if anyone has done the Seward range overnight in winter? Does 8.8 miles sound accurate for the mileage from the Blueberry LT to the three Sewards (w/o Seymour) and back to Blueberry LT?

  • #2
    Yeah, the mileage sounds right. It's a much longer day than the mileage alone would seem to indicate, however.

    A few things to be aware of:
    • If the road isn't plowed to the summer trailhead, it can add 3 to 4 miles one way of hiking into the Blueberry Lean-to. (3 miles if they plow to Stony Creek, 4 miles if they stop plowing at the snowplow turnaround before that). In this case, simply getting to the Blueberry Lean-to turns into a 7 to 8 mile trek in itself, which means you'd probably want to devote a full day to the hike in, and a full day to the hike out.
    • There's some ledges on the south side of Seward that can get tricky if they're icy. Also, the north side of Seward can pose a challenge if it's icy as well. I'd probably carry crampons for these areas regardless of what any trip reports for the Sewards from previous visitors said. That'd be a lot of effort to get most of the way back in there only to have to turn back for lack of aggressive traction.
    • On the same note, you may feel tempted to descend by way of the Calkins Brook herd path to avoid Seward on the way out, and return to the Blueberry Lean-to via the long way around, both to avoid the ledges as well as to avoid having to summit a 5th High Peak in a single day. As someone who's made the unfortunate choice to do this, I can say that it wasn't worth it even without snow on the ground. Doing so probably added at least several hours to our time spent moving.
    • Winter use in the High Peaks has increased a lot recently, but these peaks still get relatively little use and may go a week or longer without seeing a single visitor. If you're not familiar with the paths (i.e., you haven't hiked these peaks before) route finding may be difficult- especially if there's been substantial snowfall since the last visitor. Following herd paths when they're covered with snow is usually slow going, and your pace can slow to a crawl with lots of retracing your steps to try a different route. On the plus side, you'll be able to follow your tracks on the return from Emmons.

    A lot of people try to get these within a couple of days of the start of winter, when the snow isn't yet very deep (and it may still be possible to drive to the summer trailhead). This makes following the herd paths a lot easier, and the lack of deep snow also often lessens the physical difficulty of the trip (although you'll likely still need snowshoes). However, early in the winter is also when the ice is often at its worst and the days are shortest. Conversely, if you wait until late winter, most of the ice is typically buried deep beneath the snow, the days are substantially longer, and the weather is generally milder, but you also have deep snow to deal with and the trails may not be broken out or easy to follow.

    If you can drive to the summer trailhead, you'd probably find that even though the mileage is substantial, day hiking the Seward Range is less difficulty overall than overnighting. Doing the loop (up Seward, down Calkins Brook (or vice-versa) makes more sense in this situation, and you don't have to deal with doing camp chores in the cold and dark (which always eats up a substantial amount of time that you could've otherwise spent on the trail).

    I hope this helps!

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    • #3
      Another thing is if you can an do drive to the summer trailhead an get snow or ice on the road while you are in there . getting out might be a problem. I don't think a cell phone works back there or not.

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      • DSettahr
        DSettahr commented
        Editing a comment
        Good point! :-)

      • JoeCedar
        JoeCedar commented
        Editing a comment
        In my experience, Verizon phones begin to work around the Raquette River trailhead and I can always call from the Stony Creek bridge. That doesn't help much if you are stuck 3 miles back at the trailhead.

        I will add that the road is plowed by the Ampersand Park to reach their property, not a government entity. The parking lot is not plowed. The road is closed (posted by sign) and you travel at your own risk. Cars with FWD or RWD and all-season tires can have a problem.

    • #4
      You can park just before the gate, walk the road, do D and E via Calkins, then go over Seward and up and down Seymour and hike back out to your car all in about 12 hours if the trail's broken out. Lots of folks from this forum have done just that. Not that you want to do it that way based on your OP but it does put a different spin on the endeavor.

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      • #5
        Does skiing into Blueberry LT provide any benefit? I would like to do the Sewards in two distinct day trips and wonder how much effort/time I can save by skiing. That is, of course, if conditions permit. Which leads to a second question. Does anyone know if this route is skiable yet?
        Thanks for the help.

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        • #6
          Originally posted by Nals View Post
          Does skiing into Blueberry LT provide any benefit? I would like to do the Sewards in two distinct day trips and wonder how much effort/time I can save by skiing. That is, of course, if conditions permit. Which leads to a second question. Does anyone know if this route is skiable yet?
          Thanks for the help.
          I talked a little bit about this in one of my posts above. A few years ago, another hiker and I skied into the Ward Brook Lean-to on a day trip to climb Seymour. We both agreed that we really didn't save much time by doing so. There were enough little ups and downs, and some blowdown along the trail that slowed us up from the quick glide we'd been hoping for. We were able to drive to the summer trailhead at the time, though. If we'd had to go in on foot on the road from Stony Creek Ponds, skis probably would've made a difference there.

          I haven't been up there recently, but it may not be all that conducive to skiing yet- the best skiing conditions don't come until after there's a solid base to cover all the roots and rocks, with a good layer of powder on top of that. The best backcountry skiing conditions often don't appear until late December or even early January (possibly even later).

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          • Nals
            Nals commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the information.

        • #7
          Originally posted by DSettahr View Post
          On the same note, you may feel tempted to descend by way of the Calkins Brook herd path to avoid Seward on the way out, and return to the Blueberry Lean-to via the long way around, both to avoid the ledges as well as to avoid having to summit a 5th High Peak in a single day. As someone who's made the unfortunate choice to do this, I can say that it wasn't worth it even without snow on the ground. Doing so probably added at least several hours to our time spent moving.
          Are you saying that you chose to go back over Seward, or that you chose to go down via Calkins? I would say that going back over Seward is harder.
          ADK 46/46W + MacNaughton, Grid 277/552
          Photos & Stuff

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          • #8
            Originally posted by autochromatica View Post

            Are you saying that you chose to go back over Seward, or that you chose to go down via Calkins? I would say that going back over Seward is harder.
            We chose to go down Calkins to get back to Ward Brook (not to get back to the trailhead). It definitely wasn't worth it- the added mileage was significant. Both my hiking companion and I agreed that given the same choice again, we much rather would've climbed Seward a second time.

            If your destination is to get back to the trailhead, then yes, I'd agree that it'd be a lot easier to descend Calkins if you've already done Seward.

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